NICE has warned healthcare professionals and the public that people who incorrectly believe they are allergic to penicillin are unnecessarily put at an increased risk of developing MRSA or C difficile. Incorrectly identifying people as allergic could also contribute to antimicrobial resistance, as people are likely to be given broad-spectrum antibiotics.
- Around 10% of the UK population has a penicillin allergy documented in their clinical notes, but that only around 5% of these people actually have a ‘true’ penicillin allergy.
- People with a penicillin allergy recorded in their notes are almost 70% more likely to develop MRSA and around 25% more likely to develop C difficile.
Healthcare staff should be aware of this and ensure that only people with a true allergy to penicillin are documented as such.